In my perpetual attempt to integrate the scattered factions of my digital life, I had pretty much run the gamut of customized homepages and widget engines. However, I did not get much use of out of customized homepages and am using Google Desktop instead. While iGoogle and other customized homepages are compatible with more widgets/gadget than is Google Desktop, I like being able to access the gadgets from my desktop, without having to open an internet browser; some gadgets are even usable offline. In particular, I love being able to upload documents to Google Docs by simply dragging & dropping files onto my Google Docs gadget. In other words, I think widgets/gadgets are great, just not on a webpage…at least for my personal use. That said, I think there are a lot of ways for schools and libraries to use customized homepages.
What I found most interesting from Thing 28 were the articles Creating a librarians' info portal with Netvibes and RSS and Creating Web 2.0 Style Textbooks. Using public customized homepages could be a great way to aggregate information for patrons or students, by presenting information that is relevant to them; each library serves a unique community with different needs, especially with regards to school media centers. Text books are limited in scope and quickly outdated, making the vast and dynamic Internet an excellent resource for an array of current information. However, students need help culling useful information from all the crud, which could easily be done with a customized homepage of teacher-selected sources. I liked the idea of “Web 2.0-style” textbooks so much that I recently presented the idea to teachers in my building…which became a learning experience itself. The idea of using customized homepages as a research tool was also a very innovative idea – I wish I had thought of that during college, rather than having to submit myself to the embarrassingly outdated books in my school’s library. Overall, I think that customized homepages are worth exploring.